France challenges Tesla with ambitious $7,000 electric car project

Chris Smith

Following the COP21 environmental talks in Paris, France seems determined to take action when it comes to carbon dioxide emissions, and one way to do it is to promote eco-friendly products. The country announced that it plans to develop a very cheap electric car that would be far more affordable than alternatives, such as Tesla’s electric Model S.

France’s ecology minister Segolene Royal said that the government will encourage companies to build an electric car priced under $7,000, which is an ambitious project to say the least.

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Comparatively, the cheapest Tesla electric car will cost five times that when it launches. Tesla’s Model 3 will debut in March 2016 with a base price of around $35,000.

But how will France succeed where others failed so far, keeping costs down for buyers? It looks like the country has figured out a solution for creating a cheap electric vehicle, and that uses replaceable batteries, 20 Minutes reports.

Rather than packing built-in batteries that the car owner would recharge at home or in special stations, this $7,000 car would have user replaceable battery packages. The driver would simply drop off the depleted cells at special stations around the country, and replace them with recharged ones. If that concept sounds familiar, it’s because an innovative scooter company is already doing this in certain markets.

As Engadget points out, some companies are already offering lease programs for electric cars to make up for the high sticker price; even the cheapest electric cars are still expensive because of the high battery costs. The Renault Zoe costs $104 per month in the U.K., with the price going up if you exceed 7,500 miles per year.

While this all sounds great on paper, it’s not clear when France’s $7,000 electric car might become a reality or who might manufacture it.

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